Our campaign is about ending holiday hunger in Northern Ireland by ensuring all children and young people get the healthy food they need and deserve every single day of the year.
Our mission: no child should go hungry during school holidays in Northern Ireland.
Children in Northern Ireland is working with key partners from statutory bodies, community and voluntary sector and government providing an innovative solution to end holiday hunger. We want to work in partnership to implement solutions to improve the well-being of all children and young people in Northern Ireland.
We will work at both a local and regional level to shine a light on the crisis of holiday hunger in Northern Ireland. We will build partnerships and advocate for policy changes needed to achieve the goal of ending holiday hunger.
Summer can be the hungriest time of the year
Many children and young people who rely on free school meals struggle to get enough to eat during the summer months.
Children in Northern Ireland with partners the Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership, Pathway Activities NI, SPACE and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council recently piloted a holiday hunger programme in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust Area.
This programme was an opportunity for a partnership approach to address the growing concern of holiday hunger during school closure periods in Northern Ireland. The idea came about following a conference on child poverty “Making it Happen” which was supported by the Chair of the All Party Group on Children and Young People, Steven Agnew MLA and initiated by the Child Poverty Alliance, chaired by Children in Northern Ireland.
A two-week pilot programme ‘Kilkeel Gets Active Youth Summer Programme’ was delivered in August 2016 with 15 young people between the ages of 12 to 16 years. The programme involved a range of physical and team building activities, Make Lunch sessions and an OCN accredited award for Healthy Living for the Individual.
An evaluation showed young people were not being fed at breakfast time or lunch time at home during school holidays. This results in poor health and loss of learning over holiday periods from school.
Our project aimed to ensure that young people involved are able to:
• Identify healthy food choices.
• Develop a range of cooking skills on a budget.
• Develop the skills and confidence to communicate.
• Improve their knowledge and skills to exercise to improve their health.
• Improve their knowledge of health issues affecting young people.
• Improve their skills and confidence to engage with and interact with others.
• Develop skills in identifying personal growth.
• Acquire an OCN Level 1 Award in Healthy Living
The following Outcomes were achieved
• Improved mental health and wellbeing for young people
• Improved nutrition during summer holidays
• Improved educational achievement and no loss of educational memory
• Increased confidence and skills
• Reduced poor health through nutrition and exercise
• Improved employment prospects and progression (OCN qualification)
• Potential to reduce anti-social behaviour in the summer
• Higher levels of social interaction and participation
• Increased confidence, health and wellbeing
In June 2017 the All Party Group on Children & Young People held an Evidence Session in Stormont to provide an opportunity for various organisations to give evidence around holiday hunger so the APG could gain a deeper understanding of the context of this problem as well as its impact on children’s development and to make recommendations for its prevention.
This short video provides a quick summary of what was a very valuable event:
Ending Holiday Hunger is Possible
Food insecurity is not inevitable, with your support, we will continue to offer these great programmes and at the same time advocate for government to end holiday hunger once and for all.
Will you help us end child holiday hunger in this country?